Alexander McCloud was just 20 when his whole life changed. His parents had been on their way home from a business dinner about their restaurant when they had been hit head on by a drunk driver resulting in no survivors. That had been the night he became the owner of a restaurant and guardian to his 3 younger brothers and only baby sister.
Xander turned into Mother, Father, Brother and Boss. Thank God his best friend Lexi stepped in and moved in to help. The only problem was Aunt Sophia didn’t approve and she could take the younger ones away. This was when the little white lie fell from his lips.
CHAPTER 1 – THE DEAL
10 years after the accident
Lexi came running from the kitchen when she heard Xander.
‘What the hell is wrong? Jesus Xander I thought you’d hurt yourself or something!’
Xander looked into Lexi’s ice blue eyes and saw the worry there.
‘Are you all right Xander?’
‘Um…yeah and no. I think we need to talk.’ Xander tried to look anywhere but into those glacier eyes.
‘What do you mean?’ Lexi looked at Xander then at the letter he was holding. If he wasn’t going to tell her what was going on she would find out herself.
She grabbed the letter out of his hands and turned her back on him as she started to read.
My dearest nephew,
I know you have assured me that everything is running smoothly with the restaurant and taking care of your younger siblings but I worry.
It has been far too long since I have visited you and over 2 years since I have seen you. I have decided to take a 2 week vacation and come stay with you and the family.
I promise to be polite to your fiance and won’t mention dates for the wedding, although it has been over a year of an engagement.
Anyway I digress I will be arriving at the airport at about noon on the 3rd of June.
See you then,
Your loving Aunt
After Lexi finished reading she thought she had read wrong and re-read the letter.
‘Alexander McCloud what have you done? Who are you supposed to be marrying?’
Xander just looked sheepishly at Lexi. Lexi now knew who was supposed to be his year long fiance. It was HER!
‘When she found out you moved in she felt that it would give the wrong impression to Cora and the twins with them being so young and they were so impressionable. If I didn’t say something she would take them away! I couldn’t let that happen! You know she would!’
‘Why didn’t you just tell her we aren’t together and sleep in different rooms? Or why didn’t you tell me what was going on?’
Xander could see Lexi progressively getting more upset by the minute and he hated that he had put her in this position.
‘I did tell her that we are just friends but she didn’t believe me and I didn’t tell you because I didn’t think you would need to know. I didn’t think there would be a problem.’
‘You mean you didn’t think you would get caught in your lie!’
‘Well…yeah.’ Xander agreed.
Lexi stormed away from Xander and into the kitchen and continued cooking dinner.
Xander thought he would leave her to calm down and realize he was only trying to do the best for all of them and keeping them all together, including Lexi.
Lexi couldn’t believe what had just happened. What else did Alexander McCloud want from her? She had given up any dream of leaving Port Kinnaird and all the memories of this town to help him. She played surrogate Mother/Big Sister to his siblings. She waitressed in his restaurant. She cleaned his house. Her life was already all about Alexander McCloud. The pathetic thing is he doesn’t even normally ask she just does it and she would do this too. She knew it and so did he even if he wouldn’t admit it. She’d become the fake fiance, the only thing is in her dreams it would be real.
Well if this is the only way to just feel what it could be like to be with him she would do it. It would fuel his fantasies anyway.
Cora, Xander’s 17 year old baby sister came in the back door and nearly ran right into Lexi.
‘Jesus, Lexi you gave me a fright!’
‘I gave you a fright? What are you doing home? You should be at the restaurant.’
‘I don’t feel well Lex…My stomach is cramping…I think it’s my time of the month…I’ll just go soak in a hot bath. Thanks.’ Cora tried to sneak away from Lexi with no other explanation.
Lexi grabbed Cora by the shoulder before she got too far.
‘Woah…wait a minute. That doesn’t work with me, you know that Cora.’
Cora turned to face Lexi and Lexi just stared her down.
‘Ok, ok I don’t want to work with Gabe and Adam. All they talk about is what girl they slept with and it’s degrading.’
Alexander came round the corner into the kitchen then. ‘Get to work Cora!’
‘No buts get to work! Lexi does enough as it is, she is not covering your shifts as well because you don’t want to work with someone.’
Cora sighed and stormed out of the house only the way a teenager can. She took off on her bike like a bat out of hell.
‘Lexi I think we should try to talk now.’
Xander and Lexi went through to the sitting room and sat on opposite sides of the couch. The silence was palpable and they both just stared at the 50 inch plasma screen TV.
After about 5 minutes Xander had had enough.
‘For fucks sake Lexi, how long have we known each other?’
He looked at her expectantly and heard her whisper ‘too long.’
‘Yeah well…we shouldn’t be like this. We should be able to talk about anything. We used to be able to talk about anything.’
‘I thought so. But why didn’t you talk to me about this?’ Lexi argued.
‘I’m sorry I should have. But now I really need your help…again. I know you help so much already but this is about keeping the family together Lexi and that includes you.’ Xander was seconds away from getting down on his knees and begging. ‘Please Lexi. You don’t have a boyfriend right now…’
Lexi saw red. ‘What the hell has my love life got to do with this? If I had a boyfriend woudl that have made a difference? You were only thinking of what you needed and you probably didn’t bother asking because…’
Xander cut Lexi off by pulling her down onto his lap and covering her mouth with his hand before she said anything that she may regret.
‘Calm down! What I meant is since you don’t have a boyfriend…’
Lexi began to struggle in his arms again.
‘Calm down and let me finish…we can be engaged when my Aunt gets here.’
‘Mmph?’ Lexi tried to speak through Xander’s hand. He removed his hand so he could understand her.
‘Well we could pretend.’ Xander could’ve swore when he said that he saw disappointment in her eyes, but that didn’t make sense this was Lexi. He frowned but carried on. ‘We have a couple of weeks to she gets here and it’s not like we don’t already know each other more than anyone else. But we have to be in love and look like it to convince her.’
The was a brief silence between the two of them but Xander could tell she was processing what he was saying.
‘If I agree what are we talking about?’ Lexi questioned.
‘Couply things. Holding hands, cuddling…kissing and other public displays of affection and…’ Xander answered as quickly as possible but how was he going to tell his best friend that they would have to share a room it was obvious she hadn’t even thought about that.
‘And….’ Lexi prodded.
‘And…we…are going to have to…share a room.’
Xander continued before she could protest. ‘The thing is you are staying in the only guest room and Aunt Sophia is expecting to stay here, and she is expecting us to be engaged and
sleeping in the same room. The same bed even.’
Lexi looked at him as if he was crazy.
‘What do you think Lexi?’ Xander asked hopefully.
‘I don’t think we can pull this off.’
At least she’s thinking, Xander’s thought to himself.
‘Let’s make a deal. This week we put our plan in action but don’t tell anyone and see if they believe us. If they believe us we can convince anyone. If they don’t we have 2 options. We can either forget it or work on it for the next week with the guys help.’
Lexi knew that Xander found it all unbelievable himself, she could tell by the way he was looking at her. So what harm would 1 week be and they can forget it after that. It would at least prove to her that Xander was not THE guy for her and she could move on from her fantasy life with her best friend.
She looked him in the eye critically and then finally she said, ‘Ok.’
Xander breathed a sigh of relief but then leaned his head towards her. Lexi reared her head back.
‘What are you doing?’
Xander chuckled and answered. ‘Sealing our deal with a kiss. God if you react like that every time I go to kiss you no one will believe us you know that my fiance.’
Lexi’s stomach dropped. ‘Sorry. I wasn’t expecting you to kiss me.’
‘It’s called being spontaneous Lexi.’ Xander quickly leaned forward and pecked her on the lips.
‘Tomorrow we’ll move your stuff into my room and see how we get on.’ He gave Lexi a pat on the backside to move her and took off into the kitchen to get something to eat.
Lexi just sat there for about 10 minutes stunned before she followed him.